Torch Offshore, Inc. announced that its subsidiary, Torch Express L.L.C., has entered into a contract with Davie Maritime Inc. of Quebec, Canada for the conversion of the Midnight Express at a cost of approximately $37.0 million. The total cost of the entire conversion project, including anticipated financial costs, will be between $80.0 million and $90.0 million. The 520-foot LASH
(heavy transport) vessel will be converted into a DP-2 offshore construction vessel with the capability to work in varying water depths throughout the world. The Midnight Express has been at the Davie Maritime shipyard since April 2002 where the functional design was being performed. Some of the conversion work will begin immediately; however, the complete contract will not become effective until various conditions are satisfied, including arrangements for the required debt financing for the project.
Torch Offshore, Inc. Chairman and CEO, Lyle G. Stockstill, commented, "We have worked very closely with the management of Davie Maritime and their technical staff for several months and we are pleased with their professionalism and the way in which they have tackled the project. We are confident that the personnel of Davie Maritime will do a good job with the conversion of the Midnight Express. The current schedule should put the Midnight Express in the water and ready for work in the fourth quarter of 2003. The company is quite excited about the future possibilities that this vessel brings to our fleet."